Poinsettias, whose bright petal-like bracts appear in late fall, have long been the most popular Christmas plant.
Hybridization has brought about many improvements to the fragile poinsettia. Plants are now more colorful; they also last longer.
Caring for Your Poinsettia
- If your poinsettia is wrapped in foil, punch a hole in the bottom to provide good drainage. Place the pot on a saucer.
- Leave the poinsettia in an area where it will receive as much indirect sunlight as possible. Do not place it in a draft. Ideally, poinsettias should be exposed to daytime temperatures from 60 to 70 degrees F and nighttime temperatures of about 55 degrees F.
- Water the plant thoroughly when the soil surface is dry to the touch. Keep soil moist at all times but not soggy. Be sure the container has good drainage; discard excess water. DO NOT WATER OR MIST BLOOMS.
- After the Christmas season and replanting, fertilize poinsettias every three weeks with a good soluble blooming plant food.
How to Grow Your Poinsettia after Christmas
Cut back the plant after flowering and repot it. Use a premium potting soil mix. You can root cuttings from the tips of new growth during the summer. Fertilize every two weeks in spring and summer.
Flowers will develop only with ten to twelve hours of uninterrupted darkness each day for forty-plus days. To ensure flowers for Christmas, place poinsettias in a closet or a dark corner of a storage room from late afternoon until morning each day from the latter part of September through October. Brightly colored bracts will develop.